Digital Humanities in a Linked Data world: Semantic Annotations

Dov Winer

National Library of Israel / Europeana


Dov Winer é psicólogo, especializado em Educação à Distância pela Universidade de Londres, e atualmente leciona no seminário sobre Humanidades Digitais da Faculdade de Humanidades da Universidade de Jerusalém. Nos últimos anos, participou de diversas iniciativas europeias envolvendo o uso de tecnologias avançadas no campo da cultura e a aplicação da tecnologia da informação no campo da educação. Participa hoje dos projetos  Linked Heritage – Coordenação de Padrões e Tecnologias para o enriquecimento da Europeana; o DM2E – Digital Manuscripts to Europeana; a Judaica Europeana –  voltada para a participação judaica no patrimônio cultural europeu; o iTEC, Designing the Future Classroom, e o MOSAICASemantically Enhanced Multifaceted Collaborative Access to Cultural Heritage. / Dov Winer is a psychologist who specialized in Online Education and Training at the University of London. He is presently teaching a seminar on Digital Humanities at the Faculty of Humanities of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has taken part in several European initiatives concerning the use of advanced technologies for of culture and the application of ICT in education. Among the projects he is currently involved with are the Linked Heritage – Coordination of Standards and Technologies for the Enrichment of Europeana, DM2E – Digital Manuscripts to Europeana, Judaica Europeana –  Jewish participation in the European Cultural Heritage, iTEC  – Designing the Future Classroom, and MOSAICA–  Semantically Enhanced Multifaceted Collaborative Access to Cultural Heritage.



John Unsworth (2000)[1]suggested a list of scholarship related functions (primitives) that could be the basis for a tool-building enterprise in humanities computing: Discovering, Annotating, Comparing, Referring, Sampling, Illustrating, Representing. Several initiatives sought to provide tools [2] to support these activities.

The Semantic Web has come of age [3] with the extraordinary expansion of the Linked Data [4] universe. Data models anchored in such approach have been adopted by the two largest initiatives building Digital Libraries and are now offering scholars unparalleled access to digitised sources: Europeana [5] and the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) [6].  Several projects are now seeking to support the Unsworth scholarship primitives in the new Linked Data environment: Digital Manuscripts to Europeana [7], Europeana Cloud [8], Europeana Creative [9], Research Space [10] and the Stanford Linked Data project [11].

After reviewing these developments we will exemplify the potential of this environment through the demonstration of a Semantic annotation tool, Pundit. It is being developed as part of the DM2E project and has just won the LODLAM competition for 2013 [12].  Annotating is the act of expressing knowledge about a “resource”. Pundit [13] enable users not only to comment, bookmark or tag web pages, but also to create semantically structured data while annotating, thus enriching the so called Web of Data. The ability to express semantically typed relations among resources, relying on ontologies and specific vocabularies, not only enables users to express unambiguous and precise semantics, but also, more interestingly, fosters the reuse of such collaboratively created knowledge within other web applications. For example: provide a powerful semantic search, build innovative ad-hoc data visualizations or ultimately improve the way users explore the web. Semantically structured annotations enable users to create knowledge graphs where web content fragments, concepts and entities are meaningfully connected. Technically, such a knowledge graph is represented using the Resource Description Framework (RDF), the main building block of the Semantic Web.

[1] Unsworth, J. (2000). “Scholarly Primitives: what methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this?”. Symposium on “Humanities Computing: formal methods, experimental practice” sponsored by King’s College, London, May 13, 2000. Retrieved on June 23, 2013 from:

[2] Among others:
– Palmer, C.L., Teffeau, L.C., Pirmann,C.M. 2009. Scholarly Information Practices in the Online Environment: Themes from the Literature and Implications for Library Service Development. Report commissioned by OCLC Research. Published online at:
– Masover, S. (2013). Project Bamboo Scholarly Practice Report. Retrieved on June 23, 2013 from:
– Bamboo Technological Proposal (2010). Retrieved on June 23, 2013 from: ;
– Digital Manuscripts to Europeana (2012). Deliverable D3.1: DM2E Initial Specification Report. Retrieved on June 23, 2013 from:

[3] The Institute for Global Futures, Global Futures Forecast 2012, indicate the Semantic Web as a top trend shaping. They names Semantic Web and semantic technologies as a standalone trend “about deep connections with data and an attempt to make the web more accurate, smarter and useful when you’re searching,” combining a front-end that is more intuitive and personal to individual needs with a back-end built on standards to drive meaning and connections. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[4] Linked Data – Connect Distributed Data across the Web. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[5] Europeana Professional Home. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[6] Digital Public Library of America.  Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[7] Digital Manuscripts to Europeana.  Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[8] Europeana Cloud. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[9] Europeana Creative. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[10] Research Space. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[11] Stanford University Libraries (SUL) and the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Linked Data workshops. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[12] Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums Summit 2013. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

[13] Pundit semantically structured annotations. Retrieved on June 24, 2013 from

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